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Once again I ran out of space so I am about to wipe the hard disk of my macbook pro to restart from a clean slate. I have taken a full backup of my home directory to an external hard disk, using rsync in single user mode. For stability I don't want to restore from an Apple-style (time machine) backup. I plan on reinstalling only the newest version of selected apps, as well as specific documents I'm still working on right now. I want to keep my private stuff local and do not want to go through iCloud.

When I did that the same thing a couple of years back, one thing that didn't work properly was restoring the keychain, which of course has all my Safari passwords among other things. I am aware of issues such as those described in this question, and I have experimental proof that save/restore of the whole keychain through Apple's command line utility called "security" does not work as it should (it gives errors halfway through and fails to transfer everything).

Hence the question: is there a RELIABLE way to backup EVERYTHING in my mac osx keychain and all its variants and then restore it on a wiped computer, without using external closed-source utilities and without going through iCloud? (To me this sounds like a very basic thing to want to do with an os and it's unclear why there should be so many hurdles.)

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  • appletoolbox.com/… may be a help? Be careful though. iCloud is probably the easiest
    – Nathan
    Jun 12, 2020 at 10:30
  • @apple.stackexchange.com/users/341244/nathan: Thanks. The plus point is that it's open source (except I'm a Python rather than a Perl guy). The minus point is that it exports to 1password, which is useless to me, but doesn't reimport it back into keychain.
    – st01
    Jun 12, 2020 at 12:37
  • Have you tried this: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/230503/… Jun 12, 2020 at 13:38
  • @steve-chambers: yes, that's what I did two years ago and to my great disappointment it didn't work. No idea why. The trouble is that trying any solution is both destructive and time-consuming (full backup takes about a day) so I'd like some confidence that things will work. Why can't Apple let me export my own passwords to some text based format such as json, for me to do what I wish with (including reimporting them---or, if things go bad, at least have a copy of them) is beyond me.
    – st01
    Jun 12, 2020 at 20:58

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